Crosses, Keys & Croziers

Here is another list, and rather a long one.


The sources for the Armory on this site include the coats of arms of several religious houses. Such coats of arms still occur in churches. Sometimes these occurrences are relics from the time when the churches were monastic buildings or linked in other ways to monastic establishments. Often the instances are more modern and post-dissolution commemorations of a church’s history.


Here, we have gathered together the coats of arms of the West Country abbeys and priories that have forced themselves to our notice from the sources or as we have wandered about. We have not included the foreign monasteries whose arms, for various reasons, may be found in the West.


There is a difference between an abbey and a priory, but many of the religious houses changed from one to the other as their fortunes ebbed or flowed, and the sources sometimes miscall them. Also, the houses may have changed hands from secular canons to monks, or from one order to another. We list the houses all together, giving minimal history and, where appropriate, a source of further information.



Saxon foundation, Benedictine since 1044. Description and arms in Coker’s Survey of Dorsetshire (SDt.)

Az, 2 double keys Or 2,1

Abbotsbury SDt
Abbotsbury Abbey from Coker’s Survey
AbbotsburyArms of Abbotsbury Abbey, in the Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin, Sherborne.


Barnstaple Priory

Founded temp William 1, Cluniac. Account & arms in Oliver’s Historic Collections relating to the Monasteries in Devon (MonDev.)

Gu, a bend Or; a label of 3 Arg

Barnstaple Mondev



Founded 676, Benedictine since 970. Description and arms in Collinson’s History of Somersetshire (CS,) and in Jewer’s Wells Cathedral (WJ.)

(CS) Gu, 2 keys in bend sinister; a sword in bend Arg & Or counterchanged

Bath Collinson

(WJ) Az, 2 keys addorsed bows interlaced in bend sinister the upper Or the lower Arg enfiled by a sword Arg hilts Or in bend dexter surmounting the lower and passing below the upper key

Bath Jewers 41



White Cistercians. Description and arms in SDt & Hutchins’ History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset (HD.)

(HD) Paly of 8 Or & Gu;   (SDt) Or, 4 pales Gu

Bindon SDt
Bindon Abbey from Coker’s Survey



Bruton Priory (later styled Abbey)

Account and arms (under Brewton) in CS.  The arms are those of Mohun, the founder.

Gu, a manche Erm with a hand Ppr holding a fleur-de-lys Or

Bruton - Mohun at Cerne
Bruton Priory as shown at Cerne
Bruton Priory as shown in Bruton church

Also, the other coat of Mohun was sometimes used – Or, a cross engrailed Sa

Bruton - Mohun at Laneglos



Founded 1137, Cistercian.  Arms in Carew’s Scroll of Arms (Carew,) description and arms in MonDev.

(Carew) Az, a crosier in pale or enfiled with a stag’s head cabossed Arg attired Arg

Buckfast Carew

(MonDev) Sa, a crosier in pale Arg enfiled with a stag’s head cabossed Arg attired Or

Buckfast MonDev



Founded 1278, Cistercian. Arms in Carew, description and arms in MonDev.

Per quarter Arg & Gu, a bishop’s crozier bendwise Or




Founded by St Augustine, Augustinian monks. Arms & descriptions in SDt & HD

(SDt & HD) Sa, a cross engrailed Or between 4 lilies Arg

Cerne SDt
Cerne from Coker’s Survey

(Burke’s General Armory) Az, a cross engrailed Or between 4 lilies Arg

Cerne at St Mary Cerne
at St Mary’s church, Cerne

Cowick priory

Temp Henry 2, Benedictine. Arms in Carew, arms and account in Mondev

(Carew) Arg, 3 bulls statant in pale Gu horned (“coruned”) and hooved Or

Cowick Carew

(MonDev) …, 3 cows passant Sa collared Or eyed Gu

Cowick MonDev



Cistercian founded 1201 by, and uses arms of, William Brewer – Arms & account in MonDev

…, 2 bends wavy

Brewer from Hooker
Dunkeswell chair
Chair bearing arms of Dunkeswell Abbey, in St Nicholas’ church Dunkeswell.

Frithelstock priory

Founded about 1220, Augustinian.   Arms & account in MonDev

Arms based on those of Beaumont, the founder – Vairy Arg & Sa

Frithelstock MonDev



Glastonbury Abbey

Founded before A.D.50? Benedictine from 7th century.  Description in CS.  Arms are blazoned in Carew and HD, and variants may be found in churches.

(Carew) Vert, a cross patonce Arg; in the 1st quarter Our Lady & Christ Or

Glastonbury Carew

(HD) Vert, a cross botonny Arg

Glastonbury HD

As found, for example, in West Bagborough and Pilton – Vert, a cross botonny Arg; in the 1st quarter Our Lady & Christ Or

Glastonbury at West Bagborough
Glastonbury at West Bagborough

As found, for example, in East Pennard  – Vert, a cross fleury Arg; in the 1st quarter Our Lady & Christ Or.  The seated figure, resting on the arm of the cross, may be what Jewer means by a demi-virgin and child.

Glastonbury at East Pennard
Glastonbury at East Pennard

(Papworth) Vert, a cross botonny Arg; in the 1st quarter Our Lady holding in her dexter arm an infant and in her sinister hand a sceptre Or; in each other quarter a ducal crown Or

Glastonbury at Braunton & Papworth
Glastonbury at Braunton


Hartland Abbey

Founded by St Nectan, Augustinian from temp Henry 2. Description in MonDev.  Arms in Carew and Mondev.

An ancient untinctured example at Frithelstock

Hartland at Frithelstock

(Carew) Arg, a crosier in pale … enfiled with a stag’s head cabossed Gu

Hartland Carew

(MonDev) Arg, a crosier in pale Or enfiled with a stag’s head cabossed Sa

Hartland MonDev

As shown, modern, at Stoke-in-Hartland – Arg, a crosier in pale Or enfiled with a stag’s head cabossed Sa attired Gu

Hartland Abbey at Stoke-in-H
Hartland Abbey at Stoke-in-Hartland

MonDev also gives for arms, Gu, a bend between 3 pears slipped Or

Hartland MonDev 2


Launceston Priory

Founded circa 1126, Augustinian.

(Burke General Armory) Arg goutty Gu, a cock Gu; on a chief Gu 3 roses Or

Launceston Priory at Poughill
Launceston Priory at Poughill


Milton (Middleton) Abbey

Founded by Athelstan. Benedictine. Account and arms in SDt

(SDt) Sa, 3 baskets Arg full of bread Arg

Milton SDt
Milton Abbey from Coker’s Survey

An ancient example from Ibberton – Sa, 3 baskets Arg full of Wastell cakes Or

Milton at Ibberton
Milton Abbey at Ibberton


Plympton priory

Founded 1121, Augustinian.  Arms in Carew and MonDev.  Account in MonDev

(Carew) Gu, 2 keys addorsed in bend sinister Or interlaced with a sword in bend dexter Arg hilt Or

Plympton Carew

(MonDev) Gu, 2 keys addorsed in bend Or interlaced with a sword in bend sinister Arg hilt Or (former arms of See of Exeter, from founder William Warelwast.)Plympton MonDev


Polsloe Priory

Benedictine nunnery, founded temp. Richard I by William Brewer.  Arms and account in MonDev.

Gu, a sword between 3 Catherine wheels Arg

Polsloe Mondev


St German’s Priory

College of canons in Saxon times; Augustinian since Bishop Leofric.  Account in Magna Britannia vol 3. Arms in South Petherwin.

…, 3 church bells …

St Germans at South Petherwin
St German’s Priory at South Petherwin



Shaftesbury Abbey

Founded about 888 by King Alfred. Benedictine nunnery.  Account & arms in SDt, HD and Papworth’s Ordinary.

(SDt) …, a cross … between 2 fleurs-de-lys … and 2 leopards’ faces …

Shaftesbury SDt
Shaftesbury Abbey from Coker’s Survey

(HD) Az, a cross fleury between 4 martlets Or

Shaftesbury HD

(Papworth) Arg, on a pale cotised Sa 3 roses Arg

Shaftesbury Pap



Founded before 671.  Account & arms in SDt & HD

(HD) Gu, a cross Arg

Sherborne HD

(SDt and HD) Gu, a cross Arg; in dexter chief a crosier Or

Sherborne SDt
Sherborne Abbey from Coker’s Survey

Also from examples – Gu, a cross Arg the dexter arm enfiladed with a crosier Or.  This coat appears to be used interchangeably for Sherborne Abbey, the See of Sherborne, and St Aldhelm, the first Bishop of Sherborne.

Sherborne at Bishops Lydeard
Sherborne Abbey at Bishops Lydeard

Stoke Courcy Priory (Stogursey)

Founded soon after 1100, a daughter priory of Lonlay in Normandy.

Collinson gives the arms as “a scaling ladder” with no tinctures

Stoke Courcy

Tarrant Abbey

Founded before 1215, Cistercian nunnery.  Account and arms in HD as Tarent Abbey.

Az, a cross patonce Arg; in the first quarter the Virgin Mary seated ..

Tarrant HD


Founded 961.   Account and arms in MonDev.

Vairy Az & Or, on a chief Or 2 mullets Gu

Tavistock MonDev



Torr Abbey

Founded 1196, Praemonstratensian. Account and arms in MonDev

Gu, a chevron between 3 crosiers Or

Torr MonDev


~      ~      ~      ~      ~

There were many religious houses, some tiny, others relatively large and influential, whose arms have not yet swum into our net.  Among the names that have surfaced, we can mention Athelney, Barlinch, Barrow, Cannington, Cleeve, Dunster, Exeter St Nicholas, Ford, Hinton Som., Keynsham, Montacute, Muchelney, Stoke Courcy , Taunton, Stavordale, Wareham, Wimborne, Witham and Woodspring.  We always welcome information on such as these.

There are a number of coats of arms of non-West Country abbeys or priories that have turned up in the sources or in West Country churches.  They may justify a chapter of their own at some time.


One thought on “Crosses, Keys & Croziers

  1. Thankyou for your latest work on the religious coats of arms,especially interesting was the difference in artistic interpretation by the original artists of some of the Blazons.


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